Winston Offers Online Joan Wulff Instructional Videos

Winston Rods has just released the first six parts of a planned ten-part instructional online video series called One on One with Joan Wulff.

Joan Wulff is a member of Winston’s Pro Staff Advisory Team, and is one of the greatest fly casters of all time. She has published books (Joan Wulff’s Fly Casting Accuracy, Joan Wulff’s Fly Fishing, Joan Wulff’s Fly-Casting Techniques, Joan Wulff’s New Fly-Casting Techniques) and videos (Joan Wulff’s Dynamics of Fly Casting: From Solid Basics to Advanced Techniques)  and is the founder of the Wulff School of Fly Fishing on the Beaverkill River in New York State. She is deservedly revered for her passion for the sport of fly fishing; her since interest in those she meets and instructs, and the class and grace she demonstrates in the way she lives.

This first set of five contains the following lessons:

1. Introduction
2. The Casting Stroke
3. The Roll Cast
4. The Basic Cast
5. Creating the Loop
6. Timing and Other Variables

Each video is short (less than four minutes), but is filled with tips and insights that will be valuable to both beginners and more experienced fly casters.

You can get to the videos here.

Bob Triggs’ The Secret Season

Bob Triggs, Olympic Peninsula Guide and flycasting instructor, reprised an article he first shared on the late Doug Rose’s blog several years ago. Bob’s take on fishing for sea run cutthroat trout is timely as ever. Excellent insights and tips. Read his article “The Secret Season” here.

Into Darkness: Setting Back the Clock

Early yesterday I went to my favorite beach for a morning session chasing sea run cutthroat trout. I like this beach on the ebb where I’ve had consistent success, but decided to give it a try on the flood.

The forecast was calling for rain later in the morning and cold (in the mid-forties) so I was dressed in my warm shelled insulator pants and my hooded Nano Puff jacket. With my rain coat and waders on, I knew I’d be warm.

What I wasn’t prepared for was how dark it was at the beach. Over the last months, even when leaving the house there were the first fingers of light in the eastern sky. But this is late October and that wasn’t to be. I got dressed in a light drizzle and had walked down along the sea wall to the entrance near the bridge before it was apparent that daylight, however gray, was starting to emerge.

I started working the beach as I typically did. It didn’t take long to relearn the obvious: wading on the flood is different. And that difference extends beyond the direction the tidal current is flowing.

A couple of times I found myself in waters that were deeper than I remembered on that beach, and I slowly worked my way back closer to the beach. Beach fishing is about moving, and wading along a beach there are the shallower points and the deeper holes around those points. Without paying attention, it’s too easy to wade out or deeper than is advisable as I found yesterday.

Fishing for sea run cutthroats is not about deep wading – the fish generally are closer to the beach and going no more than knee depth is sufficient. So I was able to stay in relatively shallow water and cast parallel to the beach, in imitation of the sculpin that inhabit the zone.

That technique worked in the past here, but not yesterday. For the record, I got skunked. No strikes or landed fish.

As I was fishing the wind came up and the rain started in earnest – more reminders that this is now the season for warmer insulation, rain coats, warm hats, and even gloves.

There was another reminder yesterday too. After I got home I checked the tides for next Sunday and noticed the time of sunset seemed odd. It took me a moment to realize that next Sunday is when we shift back to standard time. Sunset will be at 4:49 PM – giving Puget Sound less than 10 hours of sunlight.

Fishing for the next four to five months can be expected to be increasingly cold, wet, and – with morning or evening fishing – dark. On the other hand, fewer fly fishers venture out during the winter months so there should be plenty of solitude.

And there’s still hope for another month or so of sunny weather – however chilly.

I’ve Gone Net

I had never used a net while wading in either rivers or saltwater. I thought nets were cumbersome and difficult to keep out of the way – particularly with a sling pack, which I use.

However, after my last trip to the saltwater, I’ve decided I need to use a net, difficult or not.

Yesterday, I hooked and caught my first sea run cutthroat trout. It was a beautiful fish that was about 11 inches long – by anyone’s standard, a very nice size for this species.

I was understandably excited and wanted a picture.  As I was fishing alone, I had to be the photographer  with one hand at the same time I was trying to control the fish with the other (rod hand)

I had considered backing up to the beach, but I thought the distance (about 30 feet) would have meant keeping the fish too long on the hook.

So I kept the fish struggling on the hook while I got my camera out of my pocket. I then got the fish up and set him in my stripping basket – violating the rule that a catch and release fish should not be lifted from the water. I thought I could do it quickly, but I was thinking more of my picture than the fish.

I got the photo, removed the hook and held the fish in the current of water to get him moving. I thought I held it long enough so he’d swim away – it seemed as if it was ready. But when I released it, it drifted slowly away with the current. Thinking back, I should have given it more time to let the water move over its gills until it began  swim out on its own. I knew it before and I know it now. I don’t know why I forgot it in the moment I needed it.

As I watched it drift away, I felt really bad about that fish.

Hopefully it survived. But I don’t know.

Perhaps the only thing I can do now in addition to carrying a net is to relearn the lesson that our actions have consequences and as such we need to understand the consequences before we act. And protecting the fishery is more important than a photo.

So I will carry a net and focus on the fish I catch – quickly returning them to their environment whether a picture is taken or not.

I owe it to that fish.

Strikes, But No Sets

Lower Low

Last Sunday I spent the last hour of an ebbing tide fishing at a local state park beach that I had not fished before. In that time I had at least 6 firm strikes on my popper with two to three other probable, but was unable to land any of them.

That in itself isn’t remarkable or noteworthy. Many fly fishers get strikes but don’t get the hook set before the fish looks for a meal elsewhere.

What was remarkable to me was the frequency of the strikes indicating the fish were there. Failure to land could have been timing, technique, or fly size.

The popper had a size four hook and it’s possible the fish weren’t getting the hook far enough into their mouths. But I’ve seen photos of small fish with large flies (and hooks) in their mouths, so I think that can be discounted.

Timing is the same as in fresh water: feeling the fish take the fly and then setting the hook. There was wind on Sunday and I was using a floating line in the very shallow water and it’s possible I was missing the first tug due to the rippled water. But that’s too easy an explanation.

That leaves technique, or lack of it, as cause. The standard technique for setting the hook with fresh water species is the rod set: feel the strike and quickly raise the rod on the tight line, setting the hook. In saltwater, a strip strike is used: the rod is kept pointed at the fish and line is stripped to set the hook. The strip strike is thought to be more effective with the harder jaws of saltwater fish. I did see one of the strikes at the surface. It was a small eight inch or so cutthroat trout. Given that, I think I should have been successful with a rod set.

That I wasn’t means I didn’t maintain tension while stripping in of the line. After I got home and thought about it, I recognized I wasn’t using my rod hand and line hand in proper sequence. As I was stripping I released the line pressure with my rod hand. Then, as I came to the end of a strip (short or long) I should have used the index or middle finger of my rod hand to maintain a tight line as I repositioned my line hand for another strip.

The obvious cure for that is practice, practice, and more practice.

And the noteworthy thing? To me it was that I was having a blast even without landing a fish. The excitement of feeling a connection with a living thing at the end of my fly line was incredible as always. It’s been the same every time whether I bring the fish in or not. I think it’s the sense of connecting with something natural and wild.

So it was a good day of fishing. I had fun and I taught myself a lesson.

Still next time I think I will use a smaller fly.